IGCSE French/Spanish: 6: Making your writing more interesting; maximising exam performance.
A lot of what you are about to read may sound obvious, but students are under a huge amount of pressure in an exam, and it is therefore not surprising that even the most ‘obvious’ things often get forgotten. Key things you should try to remember:
Make sure your writing is appropriate to the audience it is being written for. E.g. if you are being asked to write a letter, ensure you begin and end properly with the correct phrases for Dear… Best wishes….Yours sincerely*… Write soon etc. so make sure you know these by heart before going into the exam.
When you are asked for description, try to go beyond using basic adjectives and develop your answer to include specific details.
When giving an opinion (which you should do at least once in every piece of writing at IGCSE), always give a reason or justification. This will help you to turn your opinion into a complex phrase with the addition of a linking word such as because/therefore/since etc.
Ensure you are writing in the correct tense, i.e. if you are asked to talk about what you did on your holiday last year, this clearly has to be in the past tense. You will lose marks if you get this wrong.
Always include all the information asked for in the instructions, but don’t assume that the reader knows what the tasks are. In other words put in enough context so that what you write makes sense on its own.
Don’t waste time and words by writing irrelevant content that you haven’t been asked for, at best it may be ignored and at worst you may lose marks if it contains lots of mistakes.
Use a good range of different language, i.e. a variety of:
Vocabulary, adjectives and verbs (avoid repetition).
Persons of the verb (don’t always stick to ‘I’ but instead use ‘we’ ‘they’ etc. and ask questions using ‘you’).
Tenses (you should be directed when to use past/present/future/conditional etc. but if you are not make sure you use at least 2/3 examples of each (to allow a margin for error) somewhere in your writing.
Time phrases (e.g. last year/next week) and quantifiers (e.g. a bit/ too much etc.).
Opinions (use different ways of expressing them such as I believe/In my opinion etc.).
Finally try to sound as native as you possibly can by using idiomatic expressions that would be genuinely used in the country.
* This phrase is very long in French so don’t leave it until the night before the exam to learn!
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